Jump to content

  • Quick Navigation
- - - - -

Coliforms - Cleaning and Sanitizing

  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
2 replies to this topic


    Grade - Active

  • IFSQN Active
  • 3 posts
  • 1 thanks

  • United States
    United States

Posted 10 March 2010 - 04:00 PM

What's the Difference?

While the terms are often used interchangeably, cleaning and sanitation have two entirely different purposes.

Cleaning is the removal of unwanted material (commonly called soils) from production equipment and production areas. Removing leftover particles eliminates many microbes, their food source and other physical debris that can contaminate future batches of food. Appropriate cleaning chemicals may be applied manually or mechanically to equipment that remains assembled (clean-in-place) or that is partially or fully disassembled (clean-out-of-place). Most often, a combination of methods is used.

Sanitizing is the treatment of a clean surface with a chemical or physical agent (e.g., heat) to reduce microorganisms that cause disease and/or spoilage to levels considered safe for public health. By definition, sanitizing a food contact surface must reduce the population of specific bacteria by 99.999 per cent (a 5 log kill) in 30 seconds. Non-food contact surfaces require a reduction of 99.9 per cent (a 3 log kill), also within 30 seconds. When microbial populations are reduced to these levels, the surfaces are considered to be microbiologically clean.

It should be noted that sanitizers do not destroy all pathogens. For example, if there are 1 million bacteria per square centimetre, a 99.999 per cent (5 log) (The term "log" is an abbreviation of "logarithm." A logarithm is a "power of ten" (101)). Each logarithmic reduction reduces the microbial population by 90 per cent.kill still leaves 10 bacteria per square centimetre. Some of these may be pathogens or spoilage-causing organisms. Under optimal growing conditions (e.g., food, water, nutrients, and suitable pH, temperature and oxygen level), the population of the surviving bacteria may double every 20 minutes. Therefore, surfaces that are microbiologically clean immediately after cleaning and sanitizing operations may develop high bacterial levels if left undisturbed for a period of time (e.g., overnight). As a general rule, surfaces left for more than four hours must be sanitized again before production resumes.

Undesirable microorganisms (pathogens and/or spoilage-causing organisms) may come from:
  • Ingredients (e.g., fruits and vegetables to be processed or packed)
  • People (e.g., dirty hands)
  • The building (e.g., dirt and condensation dripping from overhead pipes, dirty drains or unclean doorknobs) Equipment (e.g., packaging equipment, pallet truck travelling through the building, dirty buttons and switches, or dirty cleaning brushes
  • Improperly stored garbage and product residues
  • Non-potable
  • Pools of water on the floor
  • Rodents and other pests
  • The air (via aerosols)
  • Many other source
Searching for resources that would provide information as the survival of coliforms after cleaning of stainless steel equipment is it possible and what are the potential causes?

Thanked by 1 Member:


    IFSQN...it's My Life

  • IFSQN Admin
  • 12,542 posts
  • 1321 thanks

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Manchester
  • Interests:Married to Michelle, Father of three boys (Oliver, Jacob and Louis). I enjoy cycling, walking and travelling, watching sport, especially football and Manchester United. Oh and I love food and beer and wine.

Posted 11 March 2010 - 11:41 AM

Searching for resources that would provide information as the survival of coliforms after cleaning of stainless steel equipment is it possible and what are the potential causes?

Can anyone help rbrock2004 with this question?


Get FREE bitesize education with IFSQN webinar recordings.
Download this handy excel for desktop access to over 140 Food Safety Friday's webinar recordings.

Check out IFSQN’s extensive library of FREE food safety videos




    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Moderator
  • 18,985 posts
  • 5285 thanks

  • Earth
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:SF

Posted 11 March 2010 - 04:34 PM

Dear rbrock,

Well, the official definitions for the numbers in yr post seem to refer to E.coli and S.aureus as the representative test bacterial species, ie the percentage of survivors of each type if the only species present would be as per yr calculation assuming that the operational cleaning procedure was equivalent to the one utilised for the (controlled procedure) definition. I predict this is probably highly unlikely.

However, accepting the equivalence as a first (optimistic) approximation, it is of interest to yr query to compare the ease of destruction for “coliforms” with E.coli and S.aureus. Unfortunately “coliforms” is not a specific bacterial species but a quite diverse group so a direct answer is rather difficult, perhaps impossible. Sorry about that :smile: . Since E.coli is a member of the coliform group, one might extrapolate on that basis but this is pure guesswork I think. Perhaps you should pick another (defined) species ? I expect that the sanitiser suppliers hv issued this kind of comparitive data somewhere.??

Just for interest, some relevant details are here –



Rgds / Charles.C

Kind Regards,



0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users